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August 2008

July 2008

Film Review: Encounters at the End of the World


To better appreciate “Encounters at the End of the World,” it’s best to view it not as a scientific documentary, but as a home movie from screendom’s crankiest old bastard. That’s right, Werner Herzog is back with his latest non-fiction endeavor, proving again that it’s not actually naturalistic poetry until it’s been touched by his camera.

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Film Review: American Teen


(Reviewed at the 2008 Phoenix Film Festival)

I don’t know what to be more frightened of: the plight of the average Midwestern teenager or the state of documentary films. “American Teen” yearns to expose the aching heart of high schoolers, but comes up short in rather impressive fashion, taking cues from MTV’s “The Hills” to manufacture a documentary that doesn’t appear to contain a living, breathing moment of reality.

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Film Review: Meet Dave


Once the king of comedy, it’s been a disheartening journey for Eddie Murphy recently; he’s failed to remind audiences what once made him such a hot comedy commodity, only to see his mojo dissipate through a series of bad script choices and forgettable kid film diversions. I wouldn’t label “Meet Dave” a reputation-revitalizing turn for the actor, but the picture is admirably competent, delightfully silly, and absent a majority of repulsions typically associated with an Eddie Murphy family film.

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Film Review: Hellboy II: The Golden Army


2004’s “Hellboy” was a sprawling, mysterious, comical, slimy, and idiosyncratic monster movie. “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” has all of those qualities and one more: restraint. Well, at least a newfound sense of limitation; this sequel overdoses in a big way on fantasy tangents, yet, unlike the earlier picture, it clicks together with a greater, more direct geek panache.

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Film Review: Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D


“Journey to the Center of the Earth” isn’t a straight-jacket adaptation of the Jules Verne classic, but a vague photocopy that eschews daring adventure for cheap, plastic thrills, tarted up with a sickly glaze of 3-D to help prop up the anemic screenplay. It’s a gimmick-driven movie and it’s shocking how much the final product lacks the source material’s intrinsic magic.

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DVD Review: Never Forever


“Never Forever” had all the opportunity in the world to fall in line with its romance-novel inclinations, to feed off melodrama and end up a tragic tear-jerker that flails wildly and distills the pain of life into bite-sized bits of mascara-smeared displeasure. Thank heavens writer/director Gina Kim isn’t interested in reducing her feature to a puddle of pandering.

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DVD Review: Heathers - 20th High School Reunion Edition

HEATHERS - group 

The Los Angeles Times quote on the cover of the 20th Anniversary DVD release of “Heathers” reads: “Without ‘Heathers,’ there would be no ‘Jawbreaker,’ no ‘Mean Girls’ and certainly no ‘Juno.’

That’s the best Anchor Bay/Starz could come up with to describe this sublime motion picture? For this utterly faultless document not only of punishing high school hierarchy and melodramatics, but a pitch-black, pitch-perfect comedy that somehow manages to be completely reprehensible and socially irresponsible, yet remains shockingly devoid of mean-spirited characterization and preaching? Oh these marketing stooges…they just had to bring the rancid knockoffs into the mix to destroy the integrity of the preeminent high school disaster story.

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